Our minister made a comment this morning during church that wasn’t directed at anyone in particular; I think he was just making a point of how folks are remembered when they leave this life. He said something to the effect of, “Living a life that made a difference.”
I understood what he meant.
If my time to go is tomorrow, I would like to think that I made a difference for folks who knew me (and I was trying to help). This minister was a “relief preacher” of sorts, being the Associate Pastor who comes in when our head fellow has to go out of town or needs a break.
I like him.
He’s Italian, young, kind of short and has less hair than I do. That’s not why I like him, that’s just what he is. In the sermon today, he showed a short video of a fellow hitting a baseball and even talked about Jesus spitting. Not that it was the subject of the sermon, but it was a good way to get you interested.
The “Living a life that made a difference” kept going through my mind during the sermon.
A friend of mine from high school recently lost her daddy. He was 85 and passed away peacefully leaving a loving wife, children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.
The family seems to be handling it very well, being joyful, knowing he lived a meaningful life helping others and being an important part of his church, family and community. He seemed to be the type of fellow who was always prepared.
People who knew him well have been sharing their memories of my friend’s daddy; I’ve enjoyed reading them and realizing how much he meant to so many people.
He was a man who made folks not only smile, but smile prettier. In addition to touching so many lives by his faith and kind deeds, he also worked on folks’ teeth. He was an orthodontist. As a matter of fact, in the part of Alabama where I grew up, Dr. Walker was actually the first full-time university-educated specialist in orthodontics.
He straightened teeth, lived faithfully, helped folks and scared the ever-loving daylights out of teenage boys.
At least he did me...
What kind of memory were you expecting?
Above all else, Dr. Walker would expect me to be honest and I actually think he would revel in the fact that what he was doing - worked.
It did work.
It’s been over 30 years ago, but I still remember the experience of "the chair." Dr. Walker had that effect on folks, particularly boys who would come calling on his baby daughter.
It was high school, she was a pretty girl – she was funny. Why not go to the movie or get some pizza? That’s what teenagers do.
My buddy, “Hawg,” was a Dr. Walker authority. He had been there and survived. When I told him that I was going over there to go out with Dr. Walker’s daughter – he gave me the lowdown.
I’ll tell you what he did – he scared me more than Dr. Walker did.
Hawg explained to me how it would go. He said, “He’s going to put you in a chair and then he is going to start asking you questions. You better be ready, because they are tough questions.” I asked my buddy Hawg if he was kidding. Hawg assured me that he was not lying to me. Knowing him since kindergarten, I could tell when he was pulling my leg.
He was not.
Hawg went on to say, “Don’t make the same mistake I did. I sat in his chair. He didn’t like that at all.” My buddy Hawg assured me that I could tell which chair was Dr.Walker’s.
I never have asked Hawg, "If you could tell which chair was his, why on earth did you sit in it?"
He's been one of best friends since we were little, his nickname is "Hawg," you can imagine what he would say.
I remember pulling into the Walkers driveway and asking myself if this was really worth it. My friend was as sweet as she could be, but I didn’t need to be dressed down by a daddy for going to get pizza or to see a movie.
When I showed up at the door, I was relieved. My sweet pretty friend answered the door. I remember saying to myself, “Thank you God, maybe he’s not here.”
Then she said it. I started sweating as soon as she did. She pointed to a room and said, “Sit down in there; daddy wants to talk to you.”
After she said it, she left. It felt like hours passed.
Pulling at my collar, all these things started going through my head. I sweated more. My buddy Hawg’s laugh got louder and louder in my mind. I only had brothers, I didn’t know what to expect – other than I was about to be put through the ringer.
I made sure I was sitting in a chair that couldn’t have been “his.” I picked out a plain wing chair in the Walker’s beautiful home.
It now seemed like days were passing. I was checking the walls for weapons and animal heads. I thought seriously about sneaking out.
Then he entered the room.
I stood up; he told me to sit down.
I don’t know what I looked like, but I’m pretty sure Dr. Walker was having a good time getting ready to put me through the “Dr. Walker School of Daddies.”
He started firing questions at me. I don’t even remember what my answers were.
“What are your intentions with my daughter?”
“Are you saving money to go to college?”
“How are you doing in school?”
“What are you planning on doing with your life?”
I needed my Mama.
She wasn’t there.
Somehow I survived. We went to get pizza or to the movie or whatever; honestly, I don’t remember. I think we only went out that one time. She was kind and sweet and pretty, but I wasn’t sure I could survive what "the chair" might bring out of me the next time.
Dr. Walker was a kind man. When I thought I wanted to go into dentistry, he let me work in his office for a couple of weeks during high school. Once I got to college, I visited the dental school where they showed me a cadaver; I no longer wanted to be a dentist.
Now it’s more than 30 years later and I can look back and laugh at myself sitting in “the chair” in Dr. Walker’s house.
If more daddies were like Dr. Walker, the world would be a much better place.
Boys, be forewarned; I went to the “Dr. Walker School of Daddies.” Just because I survived does not guarantee that you will. One other thing – My chair is the big leather one by the fireplace.
A pretty good memory, wouldn’t you say?
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I'm BN Heard and I like semicolons, dogs and knowing folks who made a difference.